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Major Offensive Operations Continue in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2005 – Three major offensive operations are ongoing in Iraq, as Iraqi security forces and coalition troops continue weeding out terrorists and eliminating weapons that threaten ongoing progress in the country, military officials reported.

Some 1,000 U.S. Marines, soldiers and sailors completed their sixth day of Operation Iron Fist in western Anbar province Oct. 6, Multinational Force Iraq officials reported.

The force, assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2, is operating in the Qaim region near the village of Sadah, on the southern banks of the Euphrates River. Sadah is about 12 kilometers from the Syrian border and near Karabilah and Husaybah.

During the afternoon of Oct. 5 in Karabilah, a section of M1-A1 Abrams tanks engaged and killed two insurgents who were firing on Marine infantry troops, officials said.

The Marines also engaged insurgents who were attacking from fighting positions in three buildings. Aviation assets destroyed the buildings, killing seven enemy gunmen, officials said.

The offensive is part of an overall operation called Hunter, which aims to deny al Qaeda terrorists the ability to operate freely in the Euphrates River Valley and to prevent them from influencing the local population through murder and intimidation, officials said.

In other action, coalition aircraft dropped four precision-guided bombs Oct. 5 onto an abandoned hotel in Husaybah that al Qaeda terrorists had commandeered. Officials said the three-story building was being used to stage attacks and store weapons. Twenty terrorists were confirmed killed in the strike, and collateral damage was minimal, officials said.

Meanwhile, some 350 Iraqi security force soldiers and 2,500 U.S. Marines, soldiers and sailors from Regimental Combat Team 2 continued Operation River Gate in Haditha, Haqlaniyah and Barwana Oct. 6, officials reported.

Iraqi security forces and Marines were attacked with a roadside bomb in Haditha Oct. 5, but all escaped injury, officials said.

An investigation of the blast site revealed electrical wiring leading to a mosque, and inside the mosque, Iraqi soldiers and Marines discovered the initiating device for the explosive, officials said. In addition, numerous artillery rounds, pre-wired and ready to use as roadside bombs, were found hidden on the mosque grounds.

Iraqi soldiers and U.S. Marines and soldiers also are continuing efforts to clear the three Euphrates River Valley cities, officials said. During the past day, they discovered two weapons caches, in Haqlaniyah and Haditha, consisting of more than 40 mortar and artillery rounds. They also found two complete mortar systems, small arms and thousands of rounds of ammunition, officials said.

On the morning of Oct. 6, Marines discovered a roadside bomb rigged to explode. When they conducted a controlled detonation of the device, it disrupted electrical service to Haqlaniyah and Bani Dahir, due to the bomb's proximity to an electrical source. Officials said the Marines are working with local officials to restore electrical service to the two towns.

Iraqi soldiers also are continuing to provide security for Haditha General Hospital's patients and personnel.

Since Operation River Gate began, Iraqi soldiers and U.S. forces have located 10 improvised explosive devices, officials reported.

Meanwhile, in north-central Iraq, Iraqi security forces and U.S. Task Force Liberty soldiers kicked off Operation Saratoga Oct. 2 to provide a safe observance of Ramadan and security for the upcoming Iraqi referendum, officials announced.

In preparation for the operation, coalition and Iraqi forces began shaping the security environment in the region, officials said. Task Force Liberty soldiers and their Iraqi army and police counterparts conducted almost 300 combat missions to disrupt terror cells, officials reported. Since Sept. 1, they have detained more than 800 suspects, killed 25 terrorists and wounded another 10 terrorists.

During an Oct. 2 Operation Saratoga operation, Iraqi army forces seized weapons, rockets, explosives, an Iraqi army uniform and a suicide vest from a terror cell in Diyala province, officials said.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Task Force Baghdad news releases.)

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